nenena: (Soul Eater - Have a nice dream!)
So we begin exactly where last month's chapter left off: with Kermit the Frog manhandling Soul and Tsubaki in their weapon forms.

Wait goddamit I mean Crona. Crona is the one. Who's doing that. Crona. Argh.

I hope y'all liked that Kermit joke because there is a lot more mocking of Crona's muppet-faces behind the cut. )
nenena: (Default)
Yes yes yes, I know that everyone and their dog is posting a million "best of 2012" lists this week (including me), but I want to take a moment to highlight one best-of list in particular:

Robot 6's Favorite Comics of 2012

Six different comic reviewers with very, very different tastes list their favorites from last year. What's noteworthy about this "best-of" article is that each of the six reviewers list completely different titles... with the notable exception of Hawkeye and Bandette, which are BOTH listed on THREE of the six reviewer's lists, and along with Courtney Crumnin are the ONLY titles to appear on more than one reviewer's list (and Courtney Crumnin is only included on two of the six lists, not three).

I really don't think that I can come up with a better endorsement for those two series. Hawkeye and Bandette are really great. Y'all should definitely check them out.

Also the Robot 6 article reminded me that I was seriously remiss in not including Battlepug on my own "best-of" post from two days ago. Whoops.

ETA: The Onion's A.V. Club also listed Hawkeye, Bandette, and Courtney Crumnin as being among the best comics of the year. What I take away from this is that I REALLY need to get around to reading Courtney Crumnin.
nenena: (W.I.T.C.H. - Irma rocks)
A few of my favorite things amongst this year's offerings from the comic book industry:

Marceline and the Scream Queens
It's everything I ever wanted an Adventure Time comic to be: Marceline and Princess Bubblegum have ridiculous adventures together and actually grow as characters because of their influence on each other, the artwork by Meredith Gran and a roster of talented guest artists is fantastic, and the jokes fly fast and furiously while still being every bit as sophisticated and layered as you'd expect Adventure Time humor to be.  Absolutely one of the best comics I've read this year. Cannot be recommended enough.

My favorite among Monkeybrain's launch titles. The dialogue and characters are delightfully over-the-top, and Colleen Coover's slick, stylized, yet cartoonish artwork fits the tone of the book perfectly. Dueling master thieves! A grumpy detective in over his head! A villainous matadorista! Terrorist organizations that need to be thwarted, hostages in a bank robbery that need to be rescued, cute dogs, rare books, and stolen Rembrandts - and that's all just in the first three issues. I can't wait to read more of this.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Oh look, it's the comic book that spawned over twenty variant covers and that sold over 100,000 issues in pre-orders alone. And that's just for the very first issue.  But hey, this is one of those cases where the success of the comic is richly deserved. Andy Price's artwork looks nothing like the style of the cartoon series, but it fits the comic book medium perfectly. Katie Cook's storyline centers around a fan-favorite villain, yet never really kowtows to the Brony fan base the way that many of us feared that it would; the story, the characters, and the humor in the comic remain true to everything that makes the cartoon great. So in short, this comic book is basically perfect.

Abhishek Singh is still one of the most criminally under-appreciated comic artists working today. I probably can't write anything here that will convince you to buy his new (utterly gorgeous) graphic novel that will be more persuasive than simply showing you a selection of some artwork from the book and letting that speak for itself, so here you go:

Everything that you've heard about this series is true: It really IS that good.  And I'm saying this as somebody who normally doesn't care for Clint Barton as a character. I don't dislike him or anything, but in most comics that I read I just don't find Clint that interesting of a character. To be honest, I started reading this series because I'd heard that it co-stars Kate Bishop being completely awesome (which it does and she is), but by the end of the series (ETA: first six issues, as this actually an ongoing and not a miniseries like I mistakenly assumed!) I was definitely reading it for Clint. I love this comic. I love the interplay between Clint and Kate, I love the artwork, and I love the way that Matt Fraction writes Clint's narrative voice. It's a fantastic series.  I'll recommend it even if (like me) you're usually not that much of a Clint fan.

Astonishing X-Men
Still hands-down the best X-Men title every month. I loved the conclusion to the epic Mauraders/Karma/Susan/gay wedding/Madripoor story arc.  I love Karma getting to take a starring role in any story arc, period.  I loved the wedding. I love Iceman, Gambit, and Northstar being bros. I loved Danger and Emma co-starring in one of my favorite standalone issues I've read this year. I just love the way that this series is so consistently good, and it's hard not to acknowledge that this is largely because Marvel keeps Astonishing mostly separate from whatever crossover event bullshit they're mucking up the other X-titles with.*  It was exactly that same tiresome crossover event bullshit (*cough*Avengers vs. X-Men*cough*) that turned X-Men Legacy from a series that I was enjoying immensely into a series that bored me to tears. Anywhoo, Astonishing is for that very reason still the only X-title on my pull list as I head into 2013, although to be honest I kind of hope that changes soon. I miss Rogue being awesome.

*Okay, I admit that I did really enjoy Schism. But Schism is basically the ONLY one of Marvel's big narrative "events" I've enjoyed in a long while, and it wasn't even a big crossover event at that.   Avengers vs. X-Men wasn't just bad, it was actively painful and boring.  Thank God that  Astonishing had nothing to do with that crap.
nenena: (Default)
Let's be honest: I think that a lot of us are starting to get pretty tired of the glut of plucky-young-heroine-versus-unjust-dystopian-future novels currently flooding the YA market. Including me. Having said that, however, I have to confess that I am tremendously enjoying Yusuke Kishi's Shin Sekai Yori ("From the New World"). And I mostly enjoy it because it (for the most part) avoids a lot of the cliched narrative traps that so many English YA novels and Japanese light novels fall into.

First of all, Shin Sekai Yori is NOT, actually, a light novel. It clocks in at over 900 pages total, and to quote Gaston: "There are no pictures!" Nevertheless, it IS intended to be a young adult novel, which is probably why its second edition was split into three parts and marketed as three "light" novels in Japan.

And boy, does this one have a doozy of a high-concept premise. IN THE FUTURE: All human beings are born with incredible psychokinetic potential. And wow, does that fucking suck.

Much more behind the cut, including some non-major spoilers )
nenena: (Default)
So it's finals week and for their traditional post-final treat I let my Art History students watch Red Cliff. Before the film I explained a little bit about the historical context of the film (although I didn't have to explain much because a group of students had already given a fabulous presentation about the Han Dynasty as one of their semester-final projects last week), who the characters in the film were, and how the film was based on a mixture of historical fact and Romance of the Three Kingdoms fictionalization. We did a couple of activities comparing/contrasting Three Kingdoms to Arthurian myths, and we talked about the differences in technology levels between China and Europe of the time period (mind-blowing for some of the students), but mostly it was just letting the kids turn off their brains and enjoy the film.

Anywhoo the movie was met with rave reviews (and from a very tough crowd, might I add!). But on Friday at the end of class one of the students asked me, "Do you have any more Three Kingdoms stuff?" Which was followed immediately by a chorus of nearly the entire class echoing his question.

Aaaaaand I told him that I would get back to him about that because honestly, I kind of don't. Or rather, I know that there's a ton of Three Kingdoms-based media out there but I have no idea how much of it is available in English, appropriate for high school students, or even, er, good.

So, flist! I come to you with a question: I've got a group of high school students who are very interested in The Fabulous Adventures of Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang and The Knights of the Peach Orchard. What would you recommend for them to watch, read, or play?

They do not speak or read Chinese, so anything that you recommend to them will have to be available in translation. They are pretty savvy about acquiring material online, so stuff that's only available via piracy is okay to rec. They seems to be mostly interested in the military and martial arts aspects of the stories, so action-based stuff would be best. Any films, books, comics, or video games y'all could recommend for these kids would be very appreciated!
nenena: (Default)
I dedicate this recap's opening song to Black Star.

And to Ohkubo.

Okay, so, we'll be getting the tiny feet in a moment. First I would like to point out that this chapter opens with a two-page color spread of Crona standing in front of some rocket ships, an assortment of gigantic pencils, a hideously ugly gigantic rabbit wearing a facial expression that clearly betrays its state of more-than-half-bakedness, and a strange worm creature that also happens to be chowing down on Crona's ass.

I don't think that Ohkubo has delivered an illustration this strange since the time he drew that Gangan cover of Maka masturbating with the Little Oni's severed head while she flashed sidebutt Gangan readers everywhere. And the strangest thing about that illustration was that it was apparently inspired by the 2010 World Cup.

Yes, that's right. Ohkubo said to himself "I'm gonna do a soccer-inspired illustration of the main character in my shounen manga!" and he ended up creating THAT.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is, I don't even WANT to know what Ohkubo was trying to do when he ended up creating this month's illustration of Crona with the butt-eating worm and the drunk-looking rabbit and the giant pencils and the rocket ships. Because I bet it actually started out as a perfectly innocent bit of artistic inspiration, something along the lines of "hmmm, I guess I'll draw an illustration of Crona with roses because roses are kind of Crona's thing right now," and then, you know, OHKUBO HAPPENED, and we ended up with...

...Well, at least there are roses in the background? You can kind of see them in the background there, behind the rocket ships. If you squint.

Oh, Ohkubo. This is why we love you.

Unfortunately from the butt-biting worm it just goes downhill from there. )

ETA the first: Insert pre-emptive "fuck you" to Bleachh here. Dude, don't you get tired of doing this every month?

ETA the second: Z-Raid wrote an excellent post explaining the difference between boring action scenes versus dynamic action scenes, and another excellent post about composition in fight scenes. Both of which articulate exactly WHY this chapter of Soul Eater is so painfully boring (in terms of the fight scene visuals) much better than I could have.

ETA the third: This month's color scans are up!

Gangan cover: cover scan | textless digital version | high-res digital wallpaper | awesome anatomy correction by tribalpunk

Color pages: high-res scans

Bonus poster: high-res scan | color-corrected version by z-raid

Manga volume 23 cover: cover scan | magazine advertisements

Gangan mobile bonus emoji: right here!

And I think that's it for this month!
nenena: (Default)
Because it is going to be AWESOME.

Also Production I.G. was kind enough to release a clean digital version of their first promo image for the anime, and y'all should click through for full size because it is gorgeous.

Oh, Bones.

Dec. 2nd, 2012 06:54 pm
nenena: (Soul Eater - Have a nice dream!)
A month after the fact, I finally got around to watching the conclusion of Eureka Seven AO.

And... wow.

There are two types of bad sequels: Sequels that are just bad (for any reason - bad writing, nonsensical plot, just plain not living up to the original), and then there are the bad sequels that aren't just bad but that take that badness a step farther by actively shitting all over the spirit of the original. To wit: Alien 3. Aquarion EVOL. The Star Wars prequels. And now you can add both the Eureka Seven theatrical film and the AO TV series to that list.

And of course I'm sitting here full of bitter fangirl disappointment that Eureka Seven spawned not just one but two completely awful sequels, because, well, I fucking LOVE the original.

Eureka Seven is Bones at their creative and artistic peak. It takes the high-minded science fiction concept of Solaris and blends it seamlessly with a story of two immature teenagers growing up and growing together, and honestly, when you really think about it, has their ever been a more perfect metaphor for contact with an incomprehensible alien intelligence than the exhilarating yet horrifying awkwardness of two teenagers falling in love for the first time? Eureka Seven takes three basic storylines and mixes them in nearly perfect harmony: One, humanity's continued failure to communicate with the deadly Scub Coral; two, Eureka and Renton growing the fuck up and realizing that life is not at all what either of them understood it to be; and three, Eureka and Renton coming to trust, understand, and eventually love each other. It's a story about communicating and understanding on every possible level, whether it's between two awkward teenagers, two cynical adults, two estranged brothers, two former enemies, or between two alien races that are literally destroying each other with their inability to communicate and their increasingly desperate attempts to do so. It's a story about overcoming loss, about found families and unlikely friends, about children who don't understand war and about adults who don't understand children, about standing by your morals, about rejecting what you know is wrong even when you still don't know what should be right, and about how the human ability to listen to each other can literally move mountains, save an entire species, and save an entire planet. Plus, you know, this is an anime with fucking awesome giant robots and fucking terrifying alien monsters and gorgeous character and scenery designs and awesome music and amazing characters and just aaaaaaaah! it's SO GOOD. There are very, very few stories in any media that can successfully pull off BOTH the "it was Earth all along!" plot twist and the "twu wuv saves the human race!" ending without descending into total ridiculousness and stupidity. But Eureka Seven successfully pulls off both of these tropes, and does it BRILLIANTLY.

I'm not even going to waste space writing about how the Eureka Seven film and then AO managed to completely fuck up all of the above on every level. I'd rather sit here enjoying my memories of how great the original series is, thank you very much.

Here, have an awesome ten-minute AMV tribute to the original series, courtesy of Studio Bones themselves:

nenena: (Default)
To everybody on Tumblr who thought that this month's chapter title was a reference to Disney's Mulan...


(wait don't answer that I DON'T WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH)

Anywhoo, recap time!

Read more... )
nenena: (Default)
So we're wrapping up Ancient Greece in my History of Art course, and the kids have just about had their fill of ionic columns and castrated marble sculptures and Homer and pointy-nosed naked dudes painted on vases. Tomorrow the kids are going to start their final project for the unit, which is a storytelling project: they have to research and then regale the class with their retelling of a story from Greek mythology. As a class we've already extensively covered nearly every facet of the Trojan War and the stories about Heracles, since I know that those are the themes and characters that we're going to be revisiting over and over again when we learn about Renaissance art. So for the storytelling project I forced the kids to sign up for stories that are more focused on the main Olympian gods and goddesses (i.e. Hades and Persephone, Apollo and Daphne, How Zeus Forced His Father to Barf and then Became the King of Everything, etc.) since, again, this is stuff that they're going to need to know once we hit up Renaissance art, but the official Core Content textbook barely mentions the Olympian gods and goddesses at all save for "Athena is pretty awesome and that's why the Parthenon was built." Yeah wow thank you textbook you suck.

Anywhoo, since we had extra time last week, a couple of girls in my 3rd period class asked if we could watch the Disney version of Hercules. Which is actually a completely legit request to make in Ms. K's History of Art class, since a) I had already shown them parts of The Princess and the Frog earlier this year because it is an absolutely pitch-perfect multi-plot-thread multi-character-arc example of the exposition-rising action-climax-falling action-resolution structure that I had to teach them, and b) we also watched the entirety of Yugo Sako's animated The Legend of Prince Ram because it's a much, much better way to teach the Ramayana to high school students than making them read any of the abbreviated English language texts currently available on the market.

So yeah, me and cartoon movies. A pretty good combination for these girls to be betting on. But I told them "I'll think about it" before making any promises. And then I went home that night and watched the movie for the first time in fourteen years, just to see if I could justify wringing enough educational value out of it to show it to the kids.

And oh my god you guys.

This movie.

This movie.

There are so many layers of erudite wink-wink-nudge-nudge jokes about Greek art and mythology packed into this film that I just DID NOT GET when I was a high school student and watching it for the first time. I mean, yeah, I got all of the surface-level jokes, I loved all of the Flinstones-like graphing of incongruent modern elements onto the archaic setting, and I could pick out all of the places where the Heracles myth was changed to make the story more Disneyfied: Hera being Herc's mother instead of an antagonist, Hades acting in the role of a villain because the movie needed to follow a certain formula, Philoctetes being rewritten as Herc's trainer also because the movie needed to follow a certain formula, Phil being a satyr because lol satyrs, Pegasus being in the movie at all because winged horses are awesome, Hercules having to fight the Gorgon and the Minotaur because those would be the most recognizable monsters to movie audiences, the whole movie being about Hercules trying to become a "true hero" instead of "oh noes I need to redeem myself through heroic acts because WHOOPS I KILLED MY WIFE AND KIDS," and Megara being given a backstory and her own character arc - something which by the way I still very much appreciate that Disney decided to do, because the movie is so much better for it.

What I didn't understand fourteen years ago, however, was how very deliberately and very cleverly many of the decisions about the Disneyficiation of the story were made. In the Disney film, Nessus the Sexual Harassment Centaur is the very FIRST foe that Hercules fights, and is trying to assault Hercules's first love interest. MAXIMUM IRONY ALERT ON EVERY LEVEL. And Philoctetes lives on a deserted island! I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND WHY THAT WAS FUNNY until I had to brush up on my Sophocles and my Euripedes for the purposes of teaching my art history course. Speaking of Phil: He's a satyr! I used to think that Disney made Philoctetes a satyr for no reason other than LOL SATYRS but it turn out, no, there's a very specific reason why Phil is a satyr and it has to do with how satyrs were used in ancient Greek dramas and oh my god that is such a perfectly meta statement on the entire Hercules film itself that I don't even have words for how awesome that is. Not to mention all of the callouts to famous works of Greek art that are liberally sprinkled throughout the film. I mean, the Venus de Milo bit is obvious, but until recently I had no idea what the Bassae Frieze was or that it appeared for all of three seconds during the "Zero to Hero" musical number. I had never seen the Mycenae Warrior Vase before this year and that's why I could never figure out why all of the Thebians in the movie had those long, pointy noses. During the opening few seconds of the film, during the two-minute sequence in which Hercules and Phil arrive in Thebes, and of course during Megara's musical number in the garden - freeze frame that shit and OH MY GOD it's like every famous sculpture in the goddamn course textbook is making a cameo in this film. And yes, of course, this is on top of the nonstop stream of verbal and visual jokes that the movie is absolutely packed with from start to finish. It's a glorious film. It seems so stupid and so silly on the surface, just so much more "oh look Disney is just stomping all over another famous story and changing it completely to make it fit a Disney formula," but it's so much better than that.

In Mulan and Aladdin and even (ugh) Pocahontas, all of the changes made to the respective films' story, character, and visual design can be chalked up to either a) Disney underestimating the intelligence of its audience and/or b) just plain not bothering to Do the Research. In Hercules, however, changes made to the story, character, and visual design of the film are all deliberate and well-planned. The changes ARE the jokes, most of them deliberately obvious but more than a handful of them very much not so. Hercules never condescends to its audience; even when it's taking up screen time with dumb jokes like SATYRS LIKE BOOBS LOL it's still managing to sneak in a golden deer in the background because goddammit this movie is going to make either a hidden or an overt reference to every single one of the Twelve Labors even if most of its intended kid audience is never going to see or get more subtle of these references. (I am so not kidding about that last example, by the way.)

And it's definitely not an accident that both Zeus's nipples and Hercules's ears are drawn as Minoan Swirls, either.

Every single little detail in this movie - I mean EVERY detail, right down to the fact that the top of Zeus's head is supposed to look like the top of an ionic column - has been carefully thought through to include some clever reference to Greek art and architecture. Disney's Hercules might (as a whole) look and sound absolutely nothing like the ancient stories of Heracles, but at least we know that's NOT because of anybody at Disney failing to do the research. They must have researched the shit out of EVERYTHING about Heracles. And then they just decided to change it all, but they changed it in such a way that even the changes themselves end up as wink-wink-nudge-nudge references to the ancient stories.

Yeah, like the irony of Philoctetes living on a deserted island. And being a satyr because of what "satyr" means in terms of Greek drama. Just now getting those jokes. Fourteen years after the fact.

Damn, Disney. I didn't know you had that level of self-awareness in you.
nenena: (Soul Eater - Blair kitty)
Boys and girls of every age!

During the five nights leading up to Halloween, Lacrow is posting the best five creepy Soul Eater AMVs ever made... that aren't the Marilyn Manson "This is Halloween" vid (because we've all seen that one a million times before).

Wouldn't you like to see something strange?

Brian Lee O'Malley interviewed Andrew Hussie on ComicsAlliance.

This is seriously one of the best interviews I have ever read in any medium about any topic, ever. O'Malley knows exactly the right questions to ask to get Hussie to talk halfway-seriously about his comics, and even when Hussie isn't answering completely seriously he's still a goddamn delight to read.

Come with us and you will see,

Michael Chabon writing about Finnegans Wake. Hat-tip to naraht for the link.

This our town of Halloween.

Aaaaaand this is the part where I link to myself because I've been writing longer posts on Tumblr recently in response to asks, so in case you aren't following my tumblr, here are some words words words that you might be interested in on the off-chance that you like reading my meta about silly horrortastic shounen manga:

Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan, misogynistic language, and shitty sexist scanslators. (ETA: Follow-up post.)

Why Maka Albarn is fucking awesome.

Things about the Soul Eater manga that are not so awesome, especially with regards to racism and sexism.

The truth about Maka's mom.

On Liz and Patti.

On swearing in Japanese.
nenena: (Homestuck - Predatory grin)
-----Shingeki no Kyojin-----

oh my god

oh my god


Also: I KNEW IT (in terms of [spoiler name]'s sexuality AND in terms of so THAT'S what happened to Connie's village) and WHOA I DIDN'T SEE THAT ONE COMING but it's pretty goddamn refreshing to see it being so casually mentioned in a shounen series anyway and for a non-bishie male character to boot (in terms of Reiner's sexuality).


So The Worst Thing That I Have Ever Shipped has officially become canon.

And it became canon in the most beautifully perfect horrible way, too.

(I love seeing how much Tavros has changed and I love seeing how terrible his relationship with Vriska is because there is no way - NO WAY - that their redrom should EVER be portrayed as a sparkly happy funtimes schmoopy hugglefest, and thank skateboarding Jesus Christ that it's not that way at all now that it's canon, no, it is EXACTLY as twisted and terrible as a redrom between Vriska and Tavros SHOULD BE and yet at the same time it is so gloriously perfect for the both of them in all of its twisted terribleness.)

I don't think I've ever been this happy about a set of updates since... Well, since Roxy was first revealed, I think? Anywhoo, fun times. Fun times all around.



That was a steaming pile of fucking terrible.

If you need me I'll be over here in the reduced-my-Marvel-pull-list-to-exactly-one-title-for-the-time-being corner, reading Astonishing X-Men. Which is pretty much the only consistently great X-Men monthly now. And it accomplishes this greatness largely by completely ignoring the rest of the Marvel universe and whatever shitty crossover shit Marvel is pulling out of their asses this season. And also by consistently focusing on great yet under-rated characters like Karma.

I suppose I should be excited about the new Young Avengers series, but honestly, I'm having a hard time working up any enthusiasm for a Young Avengers series without Eli in it.
nenena: (Devi - Is it stupid in here)

Come on, guys. I mean. Seriously.

You are googling a WRITER.

She would be ashamed of you all.
nenena: (Default)
"You know what? People are AMAZING."

- ninth grade student, while watching this video of Robert Tiso playing Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" on a glass harp.
nenena: (Soul Eater - Have a nice dream!)

(I'll bring you down)
I got on top my flying scythe to take a ride
(I'll bring you down)
Forgot what I was looking for and they arrived
(I'll bring you down)
I'm lucky I'm not on that airship that's going down
(I'll bring you down)

Down from the sky (falling)
Down from the sky (falling)
Down from the sky (falling)
Falling from the sky

apologies for the terrible alt-rock opening )

PS - New Kid and Stein icons for Gangan Mobile users!
nenena: (Default)
Yes, I have the September issue of GanGan. I already posted SE spoilers on my tumblr.

Now quit yer bitching or I swear to God I will turn this car right the fuck around disable anonymous commenting on this journal. Which I really, really do not want to do. But I'm sick of this happening every month that y'all don't get your free pirated manga ZOMG RIGHT AWAY.
nenena: (Devi - Flaming Tara)
Trying to finish up the "pre-approved reading choices" list for next year's Asian Arts and Humanities before school starts next year. I am currently having trouble finding fiction by authors from the following countries:

Saudi Arabia


(I already have Life Under the Banyan but I really would like to find more.)

Malaysia (I have Tash Aw, Preeta Samarasan, and Shirley Geok-lin Lim tentatively on the list, but I would REALLY like to find some more young adult-oriented and less "literary" authors. Not all of my students have the patience for Grownup Books and I think that they can still learn a whole heckuva lot from reading contemporary young adult fiction from foreign countries instead.)

So I guess it's time for me to ask for help. Does anybody have any suggestions?


1. Any work of fiction - novel, short story collection, or graphic novel - is okay. I love trashy young adult novels as much as I love literary fiction, and I'm trying to get a good balance of both on the reading list.

2. Books MUST be by an author from one of the countries listed, but do not necessarily have to be set *in* that country. Speculative fiction is a-okay, too.

3. English or Spanish recommendations only, please. Books that have been written in a different language and then translated into English or Spanish are perfectly fine.

4. I do teach in the Bible Belt, so please, nothing with excessive, graphic sexual content. LGBT themes and characters are totally fine, and I'm willing to risk parental disapproval to stand by those books. Just don't give me anything that might border on softcore porn, okay? Helpful examples: Seba al-Herz's The Others is way too racy to go on a reading list for high school students (and it also portrays lesbians as evil and deviant so uh NO THANK YOU), but something like Ping Wang's The Last Communist Virgin - which has a little bit of sex, really nothing more graphic than you would find in whatever books these kids are reading for their English classes - is totally fine. Also, The Great Singapore Penis Panic is on the non-fiction reading list for the class, so it's not as if any mention of genitals is automatically taboo here. But you get my drift.

Wow okay I guess this whole list sounds really demanding and nitpicky. Er. But I'm still throwing this out there just in case anybody reading this has some awesome book suggestions that would fit the requirements for being on my reading list.
nenena: (Devi - Flaming Tara)
Self, why did you think it was a good idea to mainline a big chunk of Tezuka's available work in English in one afternoon at the library. Why did you think that.

Because damn does Tezuka have glaring, horrible issues with women.

I mean, holy shit. When you read MW and Swallowing the Earth and The Book of Human Insects and two volumes of Astro Boy and the two volumes of Princess Knight all at the same time, it is kind of impossible not to notice that Tezuka has some seriously misogynistic, fucked-up ideas about women. And those fucked-up, misogynistic ideas are present in an awful lot of his work.

Yes, even in Princess Knight. In which Sapphire's swashbuckling skills and heroism are repeatedly credited to the fact that she was accidentally given a boy's heart. (*barf*)

I remember reading Phoenix back in high school and being struck by the terrible characterization of Tamami, the heroine in Future: she has no personality traits except being in love with the hero. Her only dialogue consists of her stating repeatedly that she loves the hero. Even up to the point where she gives up her life for his sake: So pure! So selfless! Because she loves him! She's supposed to be the heroine of the story, a woman so compelling that her death drives the hero to madness and obsession, yet literally the only thing that we readers learn about her is that she loves the hero. A lot. That's not a character. That's a plot device. How can I sympathize with the hero's obsession with Tamami when I have no idea what attracted him to her in the first place? Was she funny, was she smart, was she kind, did she have any personality flaws? What did she care about in her life (other than the hero), what were her goals and dreams? What was she passionate about? I don't know any of that about Tamami, because she's not a character: she's a cypher.

To a certain extent I can forgive the fact that some key characters in a work like Phoenix are going to be archetypes rather than developed characters with actual depth. BUT when most volumes of Phoenix deliver complex, psychologically nuanced studies of male characters while repeatedly shoving female characters into those prop-like roles in which they have no personality traits whatsoever, a clear pattern starts to emerge. And it's not a pretty pattern. Also, like I said before: it's fine for some characters in Phoenix to be archetypes, but when the central focus of a particular volume is to make us sympathize with a male character's obsessed attempts to bring back his tragic lost love, we had better be shown something interesting and compelling about that love interest - something that makes us feel for the hero's loss - or else the whole damn story just rings hollow.

Meanwhile, contrasting Tamami and her many sisters in Tezuka's works (much like, sad to say, Uran in Astro Boy) to the selfish and highly sexualized women in MW/Swallowing the Earth/The Book of Human Insects just makes the virgin/whore dichotomy becomes impossible to ignore.

What's even worse is that the villainous women in Tezuka's works claim to be feminists - and indeed, Tezuka presents his stories about these women as if they're supposed to raising questions about sexism that women face in real life. Unfortunately, Tezuka largely fails in this respect because it's hard to take his "feminist critique" seriously when his "feminist" characters are slithering boogeywomen with forked tongues.

So now that I've noticed that ugly pattern in Tezuka's works, I can never unsee it. Ugh.